Job 5:1-27

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Eliphaz challenged Job to “call” out and then raised rhetorical questions. Seemingly, the reason for Job to “call” would be for someone to come to take his side in the complaint he, in the estimation of Eliphaz, had made against God. The implied answer as to who would respond to Job was, No one. Eliphaz implied that Job could not turn to any of the “holy ones” or angels to advocate for him. According to the Septuagint rendering, the implication is that Job would not see any of the holy angels in response to his call. (5:1)

A “fool” is a person with a moral defect, one whose conduct is corrupt or lawless. “Vexation” or “anger” kills the fool. This could mean that God’s wrath is directed against the fool, resulting in a calamitous end for him. “Jealousy kills the simpleton.” The Hebrew word here rendered “simpleton” (patháh) is a parallel designation for “fool” and denotes one who is easily influenced to pursue a wrong course. “Jealousy” could here refer to God’s jealousy, a proper jealousy that calls for undivided devotion on the part of his creatures. God does not tolerate conduct that is defiantly contrary to his ways, and so his jealousy may be understood to bring about the death of the lawless simpleton. It is also possible that the fool’s own anger and the simpleton’s own jealousy or envy would lead to a calamitous end. According to the Septuagint, jealousy kills one who strays or who is deceived. (5:2)

Eliphaz spoke of having seen a “fool” or a corrupt person taking “root” or establishing himself and prospering. Suddenly, though, Eliphaz was moved to “curse his habitation.” Apparently perceiving the calamity that quickly befell the fool as a judgment from God, Eliphaz cursed the dwelling place of the one whom he regarded as having been cursed by God. The Septuagint makes no reference to any cursing but indicates that the mode of life of fools or their habitation was at once “consumed,” vanishing as if it had been devoured. (5:3)

The “sons” of a “fool” or a lawless man are not delivered from distressing circumstances. They are far from “deliverance,” safety, or a state of security and well-being. In the “gate,” or the open area near the gate where elders sat to render judgment, the offspring of a “fool” are crushed or have condemnation expressed against them. There is no one to act as their deliverer from adverse judgment. The Septuagint says respecting the sons, “May they be mocked at the doors of [their] inferiors.” (5:4)

What the “fool” or corrupt man harvests, the hungry one eats, not the lawless man who did the harvesting. The phrase that includes the Hebrew word for “thorns” (the plural of tsen) could mean that the hungry one takes the produce that may be guarded by a thorny hedge or the grain growing among the thorns. According to the Septuagint, the “sons” of fools gather or harvest what the “upright ones will eat.” These sons will not be rescued from injurious things or calamities. The concluding phrase of the extant Hebrew text is obscure. It could be translated, “A snare pants for their wealth.” This could mean that the wealth of lawless ones will not remain their possession. It is as if a snare is in place, ready to seize everything. With reference to the sons of fools, the Septuagint concludes with the words, “May their strength be exhausted.” (5:5; see the Notes section.)

Eliphaz implied that Job’s suffering had not come about on its own and that he himself was to blame for his calamity. As Eliphaz expressed this thought, “distress does not come from the dust and trouble does not sprout from the ground [from the mountains (LXX)].” He thus indicated that affliction and misery do not spring up without a cause. (5:6)

Man (the earthling) is born for “trouble” or “toil.” Apparently because Eliphaz believed that God considered humans untrustworthy, they were bound to experience hardships. This was just as certain to happen as for sparks from a fire to fly upward. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the “young of the vultures” fly in the heights. (5:7)

Eliphaz had concluded that calamity befell Job for good reason. Therefore, he told him, “I would seek God and commit my cause to God.” As a directive to Job, the words may be understood to indicate that Job should change his course and repent of the wrongs he had committed, seeking God so as to cease being the object of his wrath. In the Septuagint, the Hebrew verbs in the imperfect state are rendered as verbs in the future tense. This rendering conveys what Eliphaz purposed to do. “But I will entreat the Lord, and I will call upon the Lord, the Master of all.” Unlike Job who had complained against God, Eliphaz thus portrayed himself as humbly praying to God, recognizing him as the One exercising dominion over everything. (5:8)

Eliphaz referred to God as “doing great things” and that which cannot be “searched out,” “marvelous things without number.” In the description of the things God does, the Septuagint adds the adjective “glorious” or “notable” (éndoxos). Eliphaz then went on to enumerate these great, unsearchable, and marvelous things. (5:9)

God “gives rain on the earth” or land “and sends waters [in the form of rains or showers] on fields” (literally, on [areas] outside). The Septuagint refers to the waters as being sent upon what lies “under heaven.” (5:10)

God sets the “lowly” or the humiliated ones “on high,” elevating them from their low state to a prominent position. He raises up those who are mourning or grieving on account of affliction or oppression, effecting their deliverance. According to the Septuagint rendering, God “raises up the ruined ones” or those who have been oppressed or have experienced other suffering or distress. (5:11)

God “frustrates the schemes of the shrewd, and their hands do not make [for] success.” Despite their cleverness, the shrewd find that their well-thought-out plans fail. Their works, the product of their hands, end up in failure. The Septuagint says that “their hands will by no means make [that which is] true,” genuine, or lasting. (5:12)

God “catches the wise in their craftiness,” cleverness, or wisdom, and the “plan,” device, or plot of the “twisted ones,” the clever schemers, or the crafty ones is “hastened” to its end or is quickly thwarted. While the clever scheming of crafty persons may not be easily recognized by others, God catches them in their craftiness and deals with them accordingly. Eliphaz implied that God had caught or seized Job in what he had cleverly or craftily done. (5:13; see the Notes section.)

Because of what God does, the wise or the clever schemers find themselves as if deprived of their capacity to formulate successful plans or schemes. It is as if they have been plunged into a state of darkness. “They meet darkness in the daytime.” At noontime [the brightest part of the day], they, like blind men, “grope as in the night.” (5:14)

God “delivers from a sword from their mouth.” The plural suffix that is part of the Hebrew word for “mouth” (“their mouth”) appears to identify the “mouth” as that of the clever schemers. Their words can do serious harm to others and thus prove to be like a “sword” that issues from “their mouth.” When God acts against the clever schemers, he delivers those against whom the “sword from their mouth” was directed. The Septuagint rendering makes the application to the clever schemers. “May they perish in war.” (5:15)

God delivers the “needy from the hand [or power] of the mighty.” The needy, poor, powerless, or those without any influence are the ones whom God rescues from their oppressors. (5:15)

In view of God’s actions against crafty ones or mighty oppressors, persons without power, the poor, or the lowly would have hope — the hope that their distressing circumstances would end. “Injustice” or “unrighteousness” is personified in the Hebrew text and referred to as shutting “her mouth” or as becoming silent with reference to expressions that would harm the lowly or the poor. The Septuagint renders the words to apply to unrighteous individuals. “But may the mouth of the unrighteous be shut.” This would indicate that they would not be permitted to make expressions that were injurious to the poor or lowly nor would they be able to say anything that would enable them to escape divine judgment. (5:16)

Eliphaz pronounced as “happy” or “fortunate” the man whom God reproves, providing this one with the correction that would enable him to make the required changes in his life to have divine favor. Considering the suffering that had befallen Job to be God’s chastening or correction, Eliphaz advised him, “Do not reject the discipline [chastening, correction, or admonition (LXX)] of the Almighty.” (5:17)

Provided that Job accepted the correction of the Almighty, Eliphaz implied that Job’s circumstances would change for the better. The Almighty may cause one to experience pain or suffering, and he also “binds up” the wounds or, according to the Septuagint, “restores again.” “He smites, and his hands heal.” So although Job may have been struck a serious blow, God’s “hands” or power could again be directed to him to heal the wounds. (5:18)

The reference to “six troubles” or “six times” (LXX) signifies multiple or many troubles or times. Eliphaz told Job that if he responded properly to God’s chastening, he would repeatedly be delivered from calamities. Then, in the case of a “seventh one” or a “seventh time” (LXX), or at the end, no “evil,” “calamity,” or “harm” would “touch” Job. (5:19)

If Job responded properly to divine correction, he would be delivered from death should famine come and “from the hand” or power “of a sword” in time of “war.” The Septuagint refers to being “loosed” or delivered from the “hand of iron” or from the power of a weapon used in warfare. (5:20)

If he were to be responsive to divine chastisement, Job (as Eliphaz viewed the matter) would be “concealed” from the “whip [scourge or lash] of a tongue,” not being subjected to verbal abuse or ruinous slander. He would not need to fear ruin, devastation, violence or, according to the Septuagint, “coming evils” or calamities. The things Eliphaz said Job would not experience were the very things he had faced. He had become an object of ridicule and had lost cattle, female donkeys, camels, and servants to violent raiders. (5:21; see 1:14, 15, 17; 12:4; 19:18; 30:1.)

According to Eliphaz, Job, if he were to accept the divine discipline, would laugh at “ruin,” devastation, or despoiling and hunger. Those things wold never affect him so that he could laugh at ruin and hunger as having no power over him. Job would not need to fear wild beasts, for they would not prey upon his domestic animals nor pose a threat to him or any member of his household. Yet Eliphaz knew that Job had no possessions at that time. There was nothing belonging to Job that could be destroyed, and wild animals could not cause any additional losses. (5:22; see the Notes section regarding the Seputagint rendering.)

Eliphaz maintained that, if Job had God’s approval, he would have a “covenant with the stones of the field,” and the “beasts of the field” or wild animals would be at peace with him, causing no injury. Job’s having a “covenant with the stones of the field” could mean that he would not have to contend with an abundance of stones that needed to be cleared from a field prior to cultivation. (Compare Isaiah 5:2.) Instead the field would be comparatively free from rocks as if they had made an agreement with him to stay away from his field. (5:23)

The Septuagint does not include the words about stones. In connection with the previous verse, it indicates that Job would not fear wild animals because they would be at peace with him. (5:23)

If he were living uprightly, Job, as Eliphaz contended, would know “peace” in his “tent” or dwelling, indicating that all in his household would enjoy security. Job would go out to see the pasture where his flocks and herds would be grazing and nothing would be missing. The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that Job would by no means experience lack in the “dwelling place of his tent.” In the case of Job at that time, he had nothing, and the words of Eliphaz were hurtful, not comforting. (5:24)

What Eliphaz said next would have been most painful to Job, for all of his sons and daughters had perished. Yet Eliphaz, by implication, claimed that, if Job were a man responsive to God’s discipline, his “seed” would be many, and his “offspring” abundant like the “vegetation of the earth” or land. (5:25)

Although Eliphaz saw Job in a dreadfully diseased state, he portrayed his death (if he were divinely approved) as coming after he had enjoyed a long life of bodily strength. Job would come to his grave in a state of wholeness, or like a “sheaf of grain comes up in its season” (fully mature at the time of the harvest) to the threshing floor. According to the Septuagint he would come to his grave “like ripe grain” that is harvested in its season, or like a “heap” of grain on the “threshing floor” that had been gathered at the right “hour” or time. (5:26)

Eliphaz insisted on the rightness of his view. Apparently including himself with Bildad and Zophar, he is quoted as saying, “Look! This is what we have searched out,” or “found out” from careful observation. The Hebrew words that follow literally read, “for this,” and could be understood to mean “for this is the way it is” or “this is true.” In the Septuagint, the elliptical Hebrew expression “for this” is rendered, “these things are what we have heard.” (5:27)

Eliphaz admonished Job to “hear it,” really taking heed to what had been said to him. He would then “know” for himself that the observations of Eliphaz were right. According to the Septuagint, Job would know or recognize for himself whether he “had done something,” probably meaning “done something wrong.” (5:27)


In verse 5, the plural of the Hebrew word tsen is commonly understood to refer to “thorns,” but this meaning is not certain.

The thought expressed in verse 13 is also found in 1 Corinthians 3:19, but the wording differs from that of Job 5:13 in the extant text of Septuagint. Of the principal words, only the term for “wise” is identical. Nevertheless, the meaning of the text is the same. In the context of Job 5, Eliphaz used the words to reprove Job, implying that he had sinned and, for this reason, had been seized in his cleverness. While Eliphaz erred in his judgment of Job’s situation, his comments conveyed the truth that God catches or seizes the wise in their cleverness or cunning. Accordingly, the apostle made use of the thought expressed in Job 5:13 in harmony with this truth.

In the first half of verse 22, the Septuagint reads, “At the unjust ones and the lawless ones you will laugh.”